12 June 2019

'Study in India' and India's African Dilemma

By Bikash Mohapatra

An ambitious initiative clashes with a regressive mindset.

“India is a racist country. Indians are not ready to accept foreigners, especially those from Africa.” So said Isa Danjuma, an assistant professor, during his address to a group of Indian officials and fellow African students.

“We want to have a symbiotic relationship with the Indians but is it possible?” Danjuma asked.

The Nigerian had completed his Ph.D. program in New Delhi, India’s capital city, and was more than happy at the prospect of a return to his home country.

The academic’s assertion, and the following question, stunned the bureaucrat presiding over the session.

“That is not the case — maybe only in a small part of India,” the host insisted. “If you visit south India and other parts you won’t find any racism at all.”

The bureaucrat had either completely forgotten or conveniently ignored the then-recent issue of a Tanzanian student being stripped by a mob in Bangalore, a major city in the south of India.

Nonetheless there was a palpable hesitation in his voice even as he made a desperate attempt to assuage the African contingent present. It wasn’t surprising, then, that his explanation was followed by immediate challenges from a few students, some narrating their own experiences, and others citing examples of the frequent attacks on Nigerians to establish their point.

India, Sri Lanka Agree to Step Up Anti-Terrorism Efforts

By Bharatha Mallawarachi

The two sides increase cooperation after Narendra Modi’s reelection in India.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid homage Sunday to the more than 250 Sri Lankans killed in the Easter suicide bombings, and agreed with Sri Lanka’s leaders to step up cooperation to combat terrorism.

Modi, on his first overseas tour since being reelected this spring, emphasized India’s “neighborhood first” policy during weekend visits to the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

Before commencing official talks in Sri Lanka, Modi visited St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo — one of three churches targeted by bombers on April 21 — to pay respects to those killed in the attack. The bombings on three churches and three luxury hotels left 258 people dead. The suicide attacks also dealt a severe blow to Sri Lanka’s economy, hitting the Indian Ocean island nation’s vital tourism industry particularly hard.

“I am confident Sri Lanka will rise again. Cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka,” Modi tweeted after visiting the church.

Modi’s Second Term Foreign Policy Kicks off With a Neighborhood Focus

By Ankit Panda
“Neighborhood first” is here to stay under Modi 2.0.

Less than two weeks have passed since Narendra Modi’s swearing-in for a second term as India’s prime minister, but there’s already a palpable sense of expected continuity in India’s foreign policy approach. While Modi surprised observers with his appointment of former bureaucrat S. Jaishankar as his new external affairs minister, his diplomatic agenda in early June has been less surprising.

It began with the swearing-in ceremony itself, which departed subtly from the 2014 iteration in the regional leaders chosen for inclusion. Back then, Modi invited the heads of state and government from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or SAARC, to New Delhi. This time, another grouping was given prominence: BIMSTEC, or the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation. The grouping includes Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand , Nepal and Bhutan — all of whom (with the exception of Thailand and Myanmar) are SAARC members also.

The presidents of Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka attended, along with the prime minister of Nepal, the prime minister of Bhutan, and a Thai special envoy. Additionally, Sooronbay Jeenbekov, the president of Kyrgyzstan, and Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, the prime minister of Mauritius, attended. The emphasis on BIMSTEC reflects a shifting interest in New Delhi, focused on eastward connectivity and economic integration, following up on the iterative shift that the first Modi government had made, taking India’s old “Look East” policy and casting it in a more energetic “Act East” framing.

Piyush Goyal pushes for nations’ sovereign right to use data for social welfare


AgenciesGoyal said digital infrastructure can help reduce developing countries’ capacity constrains and facilitate a level playing field for all countries.


New Delhi: India has said countries must have the sovereign right to use data they generate, for the welfare and development of their people and that advocacy on free trade should not lead to justification of data free flow.

Referring to Digital India, StartUp India and Aadhaar, which promote economic inclusivity using digital platforms which generate huge amount of data, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said: “This includes personal, community and public data, and countries must have the sovereign right, to use their data, for the welfare and development of its people”.

Goyal was speaking at the G20 trade ministers meeting in Japan. New Delhi also said that issues of privacy and security should be given due consideration in the debate on Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) before global rules are made on e-commerce.

DFFT seeks to eliminate restrictions on cross-border transfer of information by electronic means, including personal information, and storing data in foreign servers. The idea was proposed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting this year. It goes against India’s draft national e-commerce policy which has proposed regulating cross border data flows, locating computing facilities within India to ensure job creation and setting up a dedicated ‘data authority’ for issues related to sharing of community data.

India's foreign policy for the next 5 years: Chumming up to US sure is beneficial for New Delhi but it can't ignore robustness of ties with Russia


Editor's note: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's tour of the Maldives was his first international visit after having taken oath for the second time. His 2014 swearing-in ceremony featured leaders from SAARC nations as special invitees, while in 2019, it was the BIMSTEC leaders and those from Kyrgyzstan and Mauritius who were in attendance, underlining the importance the prime minister places on international relations. This is the third in a series of articles that looks at key foreign policy targets for the Modi government as it looks to the next five years.

As the Modi colossus gets into gear for a new term, it's going to get its act together rather quickly if it has to make new friends and retain old ones in the foreign policy sphere. In the latter category is a really old friend, the Russian Federation, who in its earlier avatar has stood steadfast in the support of Indian leaders. Today matters are slightly different. Take a look at the top ten economies of the world. The US still retains top dog position, with China a somewhat distant second. India is in the fifth position, while Russia is way down on the list at number eleven. That seems to be that, in terms of who India needs to chummy up with. But the needs of national security are not that simple.

American University in Kabul: Wielding soft power, in an age of war


After gunmen stormed the American University of Afghanistan campus one night in August 2016, Mohammad Anil Qasemi found himself on a second-story window ledge, ready to jump.

The AUAF student never had the chance: An attacker tossed a grenade, and the explosion threw Mr. Qasemi to the ground with a shrapnel wound to the head and a multitude of broken bones.

As he lay there wounded, the student could not shake earlier words of warning from his father about attending the university: “Don’t go there, because the name ‘American’ itself is a danger.”

Mr. Qasemi survived, first outwitting Taliban insurgents who searched three times for him that night, and later enduring seven surgeries.

But the attack, which killed 13 people at the American-funded institution, points to the incongruous challenge for the United States of creating a top-flight university in Afghanistan, designed to produce future leaders, while at the same time waging the longest war in U.S. history.

France as an Indo-Pacific Power: Making the Case

By Ankit Panda

Unlike other far-flung powers, France emphasizes its massive Indo-Pacific exclusive economic zone and constellation of territories.

French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly made a splash with her speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore at the start of the month. As Abhijnan Rej, The Diplomat’s new South Asian security contributor, noted in a recent column, she presented a call to action that was “trenchant, humorous, and combative.”

Parly reminded the dialogue that she wasn’t in Singapore alone: She’d brought the FS Charles de Gaulle, the French Navy’s only aircraft carrier, in tow. The carrier, currently on an extended Indo-Pacific deployment, was docked as she spoke at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base; two days later it would join the Republic of Singapore Navy for exercises. The vessel was a symbol of France’s power projection capabilities in the region.

I was fortunate to be in Singapore for this year’s Dialogue and, while I share the assessment that Parly’s speech was among the highlights of the plenaries, there was a broader palpable sense of confusion among the events’ Asian delegates about France’s insistence that it was inherently an Indo-Pacific power.

This is No Way to Win a Trade War with China

by Brad Glosserman Denny Roy

Beijing is preparing its people for hardship and explaining the necessity of a protracted national struggle against Washington.

There is little dispute that China engages in unfair and often predatory practices to protect and promote its domestic industries. Yet if the Trump administration’s diagnosis of U.S.-China economic relations is correct, its remedy has been roundly rejected. Most observers believe the U.S. resort to unilateral tariffs will fail to achieve its intended objectives and will harm the U.S. economy as much as China’s. Furthermore, this episode may have the negative long-term effect of strengthening China’s confidence that it will prevail in future bilateral tests of will.

In public discussion of the U.S.-China trade relationship, President Donald Trump has focused on China’s huge surplus in bilateral trade—$419 billion in 2018—as proof the Chinese are “cheating” and “raping” the U.S. economy. Many economists have criticized Trump for an overly simplistic if not erroneous fixation on the trade balance as the key issue in bilateral economic relations. Senior Trump advisors, such as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, have instead emphasized a broader goal of getting China to address structural problems such as protectionism against foreign-service industries, state subsidization of much of the Chinese economy, state-sponsored industrial espionage and acquiescence to intellectual property theft, and forced technology transfer as the price foreigners must pay to do business in China. This approach enjoys support from businesses in the United States and elsewhere that want to break into the Chinese market.

Is It Too Late to Stop a New Cold War With China?

By Stephen Wertheim

George Orwell celebrated victory in World War II by warning that a “cold war” would soon commence. A cold war, he wrote in his 1945 essay “You and the Atomic Bomb,” was a “peace that is no peace.” Nuclear weapons would prevent direct invasions, but the superpowers would otherwise lead irreconcilable world orders, each seeking to quarantine and trounce the other. Within a few years, the United States and the Soviet Union squared off in just this fashion. The American diplomat George Kennan forged America’s Cold War consensus by counseling that Soviet power had to be contained until it collapsed.

The Soviet Union did collapse, eventually. Orwell, however, had projected that a cold war might involve a third party: “East Asia, dominated by China.” Until very recently, he looked mistaken. Since the 1970s, the United States and a rising China pursued economic enmeshment and a measure of diplomatic collaboration.

Tiananmen and the end of Chinese enlightenment

Minxin Pei

When the tanks of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) rolled into Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, the crackdown not only ended the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators, but it also cut short a decade of Chinese political enlightenment.

If this enlightenment movement, which provided inspiration for many political leaders, thinkers and young college students, had not been suppressed, China would have become a different country.

Indeed, it is difficult to imagine the intellectual fervor and diversity of the 1980s when we look at today's China, where ideological re-indoctrination, censorship, and persecution of outspoken thinkers have turned the country into an intellectual wasteland.

For those who still remember, the enlightenment movement showed what China could have become had the hard-liners not engineered the bloody crackdown three decades ago.

By all accounts, the enlightenment movement that made the 1980s the freest decade in the history of the People's Republic was the product of coincidences.

What Exactly Is the Story with China’s Rare Earths?


On May 29, the Communist Party newspaper the People’s Daily warned of the United States’ “uncomfortable” dependence on Chinese rare earths. “Will rare earths become a counter weapon for China . . ? The answer is no mystery,” it wrote. And on May 20, China’s Chairman Xi Jinping visited a rare earths facility in southern China, signaling that Beijing may strategically restrict its exports of rare earths to the United States. China produces roughly 70 percent of the world’s output of rare earths, a set of elements vital for the manufacturing of products like smartphones, electric vehicles, and wind turbines. (Deng Xiaoping reportedly said that while the Middle East has oil, China has rare earths.)

This isn’t the first time Beijing has politicized the export of rare earths. In late 2010, amid a dispute with Japan over uninhabited islands in the East Sea, Beijing restricted the exports of rare earths to the country. (Chinese officials denied there was a ban.) What does this mean for U.S. industries, and how should American policymakers respond? And what lessons can be learned from the 2010 trade spat between China and Japan? —The Editors

The collapse of trade negotiations last month and the Commerce Department’s restrictions on U.S. suppliers of Huawei, as well as its placement on the entity list, have strengthened a view in China that the United States intends to contain China’s rise. China is gearing up for a long-term struggle with the United States over trade, technology, and economics, and wants to demonstrate that it’s ready. Noticeably, on the same trip that Xi Jinping made to JL MAG Rare-Earth Co. in Jiangxi province in mid-May, he also visited the starting point of the Long March, a foundational myth in the history of the Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.) and symbol of the Party’s ability to withstand great hardship.

SAUDI ARABIA'S MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN DEFENDS CHINA'S USE OF CONCENTRATION CAMPS FOR MUSLIMS DURING VISIT TO BEIJING

BY CRISTINA MAZA

As he faces criticism from Western countries over the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia's young crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is forming new alliances.

On Friday, the leader colloquially known as MBS arrived in China, another country accused of authoritarianism, to meet with officials there. He was greeted by China's Vice Premier Han Zheng and signed key agreements with Beijing related to energy production and the chemical industry. During his visit, he also appeared to defend China's use of re-education camps for its country's Muslim population.

"China has the right to carry out anti-terrorism and de-extremization work for its national security,” the crown prince was quoted as saying on Chinese television.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed said during meeting with Xi Jinping "China has the right to carry out anti-terrorism and de-extremization work for its national security." -reported CCTV 7PM News.

The Ever-Shifting 'Strategic Triangle' Between Russia, China and the U.S.

By Eugene Chausovsky

Russia and China are on a trajectory to increase ties across the economic, energy and security realms, but this path is by no means set.

The evolving relationship between Russia and China will inherently be shaped by each country's links to — and contention with — the United States as part of a "strategic triangle" of relations.

As China rises in terms of its relative economic and military power, Russia and the United States could eventually seek a strategic rapprochement to constrain Beijing's ascension.

However, any alignment between the United States and Russia would be limited to specific shared interests and could ultimately shift again with prevailing geopolitical conditions.

The U.S. trade war with China and Washington's prolonged standoff with Russia — over matters from Iran to Venezuela to arms control — are increasingly driving Moscow and Beijing toward each other. Chinese President Xi Jinping is attending the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum June 6-7, but not before meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow earlier in the week. China and Russia have signed economic deals that span everything from 5G networks to hydropower plant construction to establishing a joint research and technology innovation fund. The deals come in the wake of Moscow's recently indicated desire to collaborate with China in the Arctic's Northern Sea Route as part of Beijing's Maritime Silk Road initiative, while the massive Power of Siberia pipeline is completing the final phase of construction and is set to begin pumping ever-larger volumes of Russian natural gas to China by the end of this year.

A Report from NATO's Front Lines

by Michael O'Hanlon

Things are moving in the right direction in eastern Europe, but there is considerable work left to be done.

All is busy on NATO’s eastern front. That was our main conclusion during a recent study delegation to Lithuania sponsored by the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense and organized by the Atlantic Council. A lot is happening on the defense preparation front, and the overall security situation is improving considerably compared with a few years ago. But problems remain and work still has to be done, if deterrence and stability are to be ensured, and a potentially devastating war with Russia prevented.

As many people will recall, the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, with a combined population of some six million and combined military strength of some thirty thousand active-duty troops, joined NATO in 2004. All three border Russia, though in the case of Lithuania, that border is in the western part of the country (near Russia’s Kaliningrad pocket). Lithuania’s eastern frontier is shared with Belarus, a close ally of Moscow, at Vladimir Putin’s insistence. Its southern border touches Poland, along the famed “Suwalki gap,” the narrow land corridor through which NATO would likely send most of its tens of thousands of reinforcements during any major crisis or conflict with Russia over the Baltics. All three Baltic states, plus Poland, are now among the seven of NATO’s twenty-nine members that meet their obligations to spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on their militaries, however imperfect a metric of burden-sharing that formal NATO requirement may be. In Lithuania’s case, this represents a tripling of military spending since 2013.

Are The Insurgencies Truly Over? The End Of The Syrian Civil War – Analysis

By Thomas R. McCabe

While the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) has lost control of its statelet in Iraq and Syria, the war against the remnants of the organization is not over, despite President Trump’s claim to the contrary.[1] Anti-Assad rebels still control various parts of Syria with non-ISIS jihadis controlling Idlib in the northwest and the Kurds commanding the northeast. Fighting over these enclaves will likely occupy the immediate future. In addition, any “deescalation” agreements remain subject to collapse or cancellation at the convenience of Assad and his backers.[2] But the longer-term question is what happens next? Will the wars in Syria and Iraq finally end, or will there be another round of insurgencies? And will ISIS again go underground to rebuild as it has before?[3]

The Situation on the Ground

While ISIS and other groups have made preparations for going underground to resume an insurgency,[4] the success of such efforts depends on at least two factors: how well the Syrian and Iraqi governments reestablish effective governance and security and are able to identify and root out the rebel infrastructures;[5] and whether these governments can manage reconstruction and reconciliation, especially reintegration of Sunni Arabs.

The Cost of a Clean Brexit

By Milton Ezrati

Two new complications will now likely distract commentary on the Brexit saga. One, Prime Minister Theresa May has resigned her office pending the Conservative Party’s decision on a new leader later this summer. Two, European Union parliamentary elections have created a more polarized political environment within the union. As tempting as it is to see in these events changing the face of Brexit, it would be a mistake to exaggerate their significance. The fundamental disputes that have thwarted agreement to date remain unchanged, while economic imperatives continue to impel all—on both sides of the Channel—to overcome frustration and seek some kind of post–exit relationship. The first of these fundamental considerations will ensure rough going on an agreement. The second one promises that a deal will eventually emerge, even if seemingly intractable differences will demand as much muddle as clear lines.

Such a combination of fundamental differences and imperatives may bring to mind a distant historical parallel: the sixteenth century exit of the English church from the Church of Rome. That England, too, was deeply divided, and could find little room for compromise. Just like the strains of today, that separation required fixes to a bewildering array of established associations, contracts, loyalties, legal obligations, and customs. The archbishop of Canterbury, for instance, had in his oath of office that he was, among other things, the Pope’s legate. Removing those few words required a ruling within the Church of England and vote in Parliament. Every step met resistance from one faction or another. Compromise was all but impossible. The sides distrusted each other completely. The Catholic side saw the action as an affront to God. The Protestant side saw the opposition as agents of foreign powers. It took about three hundred years, until the early nineteenth century, to resolve the matter. That’s when Catholic emancipation ended suspicion of a large segment of the population.

Syria. After war ends, what comes next?

An indispensable guide to help you understand the complex elements of this tragedy. Read What Is the Endgame in Syria? 

After nearly eight years of brutal civil war, the end appears to be in sight. And for most people, understanding the war, let alone grasping the significance of its outcome, has seemed impossible.

Who are the winners … if any? What will the new Syria look like, and can its cities and infrastructure ever be rebuilt? What are the political ramifications of the numerous potential alliances and outcomes?

If you think there’s simply no understanding such a quagmire, you’re partly right. But you can get as close to understanding it as the world’s leading observers and Middle East experts do.

What’s more, our writers are all experts in their fields, with boots on the ground around the world. 

And World Politics Review reports on politics, economics, war, immigration, justice, social change and more from every region in the world. Our experts know how to spot trends, report essential facts, and boil it all down for you in relevant, clear, actionable language.

Blame US Trade Policy for Sky-High Drug Prices

JAYATI GHOSH

Skyrocketing drug prices were a major issue in the 2016 US presidential campaign, and the Trump administration has since announced measures to bring them down. Why, then, is the administration also pushing for intellectual-property rules that give pharmaceutical giants even more price-gouging power?

NEW DELHI – Sharp price increases for essential and life-saving medicines have generated a political backlash against the pharmaceutical industry in the United States. In February, the US Senate Committee on Finance scolded industry representatives for pursuing policies that are “morally repugnant.” Since then, 44 US state governments have filed a lawsuit against Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals and 19 other companies, alleging conspiracy to stifle competition for generic drugs and illegal profiteering from over 100 different medicines.

For its part, US President Donald Trump’s administration has also announced that it will pursue measures to reduce the prices of drugs, especially those needed to treat America’s opioid epidemic. Yet the administration is also trying to export intellectual-property rules that are known to be associated with massive price increases abroad, making basic medicines unaffordable to millions of poor people in developing countries.

The looming 100-year US-China conflict


The disappearance of the Soviet Union left a big hole. The “war on terror” was an inadequate replacement. But China ticks all boxes. For the US, it can be the ideological, military and economic enemy many need. Here at last is a worthwhile opponent. That was the main conclusion I drew from this year’s Bilderberg meetings. Across-the-board rivalry with China is becoming an organising principle of US economic, foreign and security policies.

Whether it is Donald Trump’s organising principle is less important. The US president has the gut instincts of a nationalist and protectionist. Others provide both framework and details. The aim is US domination. The means is control over China, or separation from China. Anybody who believes a rules-based multilateral order, our globalised economy, or even harmonious international relations, are likely to survive this conflict is deluded.

The astonishing white paper on the trade conflict, published on Sunday by China, is proof. The — to me, depressing — fact is that on many points Chinese positions are right. The US focus on bilateral imbalances is economically illiterate. The view that theft of intellectual property has caused huge damage to the US is questionable. The proposition that China has grossly violated its commitments under its 2001 accession agreement to the World Trade Organization is hugely exaggerated.

Who Owns the Pacific Bravo?

By Robert Spalding

What does globalization mean for national security? This is a question the U.S. government’s National Security Strategy (NSS)—a document that outlines both threats to the United States and the strategy to address them attempted to answer, but it seems many have misunderstood the conclusions. What makes the current NSS different from previous versions is the recognition that traditional threats aren’t solely what the U.S. should be worried about. We can be damaged in an economic and financial sense in a manner that weakens the country just as significantly as a military attack.

It is conventional wisdom that hostile governments spend their own money on military capabilities that the military must consider when designing a counter strategy. To compensate, the American taxpayer is tapped to support a military force that can defend our nation or deter conflict. When considering the financial source of China's military buildup and its various activities that undermine our national security, the U.S. should be looking much closer to home. The People's Republic of China built the islands in the South China Sea, but American institutional investors also financed the work. In other words, Americans’ retirement funds.

The Rule of Law Needs a Soul

ANTARA HALDAR

The hubris of much liberal legal thinking has been to assume that once a rule-of-law regime is in place, it will be almost perpetually self-sustaining. But the mounting constitutional disarray in the Anglo-American world points to fundamental flaws in the prevailing liberal theory of institutions.

CAMBRIDGE – The Anglo-American world, once a shining beacon of the “rule of law,” is sliding into constitutional disarray. In the United States, President Donald Trump’s administration is testing the resilience of the system of checks and balances to the breaking point. In Brexit Britain, meanwhile, the debate on European Union membership is threatening to rip the country apart, or, worse still, splinter it into pieces.

Although the US and the United Kingdom have very different constitutions – starting with the fact that one is written, and the other not – both involve a subtle interplay of formal laws and informal norms and conventions. That is why there is no clear interpretation of Article 50 of the EU’s Treaty of Lisbon, which sets out the process by which a member state can leave the bloc. Similarly, there is no definitive answer to Trump’s query, most recently in the drama surrounding the Mueller report, as to whether collusion with Russia is technically illegal. Those who drafted the relevant laws, working in good faith, never imagined that cases like this would arise.

How the CIA is Working to Ethically Deploy Artificial Intelligence

BY BRANDI VINCENT

As the agency uses new technology, insiders are thinking critically about issues around privacy and bias.

As the Central Intelligence Agency harnesses machine learning and artificial intelligence to better meet its mission, insiders are aggressively addressing issues around bias and ethics intrinsic to the emerging tech.

“We at the agency have over 100 AI initiatives that we are working on and that’s going to continue to be the case,” Benjamin Huebner, the CIA’s privacy and civil liberties officer said Friday at an event hosted by the Brookings Institution in Washington. “That’s a big complicated issue that we are very much thinking about all the time.”

Huebner said collaborating with the intelligence agency’s data scientists is one of his favorite parts of his job. His privacy team works directly with their tech-facing colleagues on projects around statistics, coding, and graphical representations.

“And some of [the work] is utilizing new analytics that we have, particularly for large data sets, to look at information in ways that we weren’t able to do before and to use improvements in machine learning to see insights that as humans, just from a capacity standpoint, we can’t see,” he said.

The Uneven Global Response to Climate Change


Recently published climate science ultimately underscores the same points: The impacts of climate change are advancing faster than experts had previously predicted, and they are increasingly irreversible. The latest blockbuster report, from a United Nations grouping of biodiversity experts in early May, found that 1 million species are now in danger of extinction unless dramatic changes are made to everything from fuel sources to agricultural production. Despite these warnings, however, scientists confirm that the world remains on pace to blow past the goal of restricting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, likely with catastrophic consequences.

Persistent climate skepticism from key global figures, motivated in part by national economic interests, is slowing diplomatic efforts to systematically address the drivers of climate change. In particular, U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement immediately undermined the pact but has also had long-term implications. Countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia, who were never eager to participate in the first place, now have cover to back away from their commitments.

The agreement may now face substantial hurdles, but that did not stop negotiators from making substantive progress during the latest round of talks in December 2018. Negotiators put in place an ambitious system of monitoring and reporting on carbon emissions for nations that remain part of the agreement. One immediate problem, though, is that there is no funding mechanism to support these requirements.

Adapting to a Nuclear North Korea Is Better than Swapping Away U.S. Regional Assets

by Robert E. Kelly

Once Washington's bases and influence are gone, it won't be easy to get back.

There are several possibilities of what, if any, concessions the United States might make to North Korea to achieve at least some denuclearization of that country. But since President Donald Trump began engaging North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un in negotiations early last year, U.S. offers have been consistently one-sided.

America has repeatedly demanded the North’s complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization CVID)—an extraordinary demand tantamount to unilateral disarmament. In exchange, the United States has offered vague future benefits; security guarantees, aid promises, modernization assistance, a peace treaty, diplomatic normalization and so on. This swap is lop-sided in that it expects a huge upfront concession from the North—CVID— in exchange for nothing immediately tangible. Worse, the history of U.S. behavior toward rogue states akin to North Korea, particularly toward Libya and Iran, suggests that Washington will not keep its promises.

The North will not take this trade, interpreting it as CVID for nothing. It would be great if Washington could get this, of course, but it will not happen.

United Technologies and Raytheon to Combine Into Aerospace and Military Giant

By Michael J. de la Merced

United Technologies said on Sunday that it planned to combine its aerospace business with Raytheon, uniting the two into a new manufacturing giant in the worlds of aerospace and military weapons and aircraft.

If this all-stock merger goes through, it would be the latest example of consolidation within the military and aerospace industries, creating a new colossus built to thrive in boom times and weather leaner ones.

Together, the aerospace businesses of Raytheon and United Technologies produce Pratt & Whitney engines, Tomahawk missiles and the F-35 fighter jet. The combined company — which will be called Raytheon Technologies — would have about $74 billion in expected sales for 2019.

The combination would become one of the biggest deals of 2019, at a time when the world of mergers has felt some pinch from economic uncertainty and, in the case of some big transactions, greater antitrust scrutiny. As a selling point of their union, both United Technologies and Raytheon played up the fact that neither company has much overlap, hopefully insulating their deal from regulatory blocks.

How Cryptocurrency Discussions Spread


A rapidly increasing percentage of the world’s population is connected to the global information environment. At the same time, the information environment is enabling social interactions that are radically changing how and at what rate information spreads.

As part of an effort to understand communication patterns and build a quantitative framework for how this information expands online, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a United States Department of Energy national laboratory, recently examined cryptocurrency discussion threads on Reddit.

Their findings, presented at the Web Conference 2019, not only shed light on how cryptocurrency discussions spread but could inform artificial intelligence applications for modeling information spread across internet social environments to help identify and model criminal activities by state and non-state actors exploiting cryptocurrencies.

Every day, thousands of messages on Reddit [and elsewhere] contain discussions of cryptocurrencies. Some of these trigger follow-up discussions. Some lead to increased interest in a cryptocurrency — not just a discussion of that cryptocurrency, but its actual price/value. Clearly, not all cryptocurrencies are equivalent — and analyzing a set of them can reveal how bad actors might exploit those differences.

US-China Trade War Only Part of Larger Global Conflict – Cyber Security Analyst


Facebook has stopped pre-installing its apps, including WhatsApp and Instagram, on Huawei devices, even on existing models amid a US crackdown on the China's popular brand. Sputnik discussed the current bans on the Chinese tech giant with Finnish cyber security analyst, Petri Krohn.

Sputnik: Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company, has warned that if the US administration moves ahead with a sweeping ban on Huawei Technologies Co Ltd., it risks compromising national security. What is your take on this?

Petri Krohn: Google is right. But we first must put the questions here, a question for a fake news filter. When Americans speak about national security; they don't mean their own security that would be homeland security.

National security is more like international security. That is the main thing in the US Empire, the position where the United States has full-spectrum dominance throughout the world. Part of this dominance is the US ability to spy on everybody everywhere.

And for the spying it is important that global users use American applications. So, everything that happens with the US-based applications, if the data is stored on American servers, a copy of it will go down to the NSA's data centre somewhere in Utah.

Huawei obtains 46 commercial 5G contracts from 30 countries despite US ban


Chinese telecom giant Huawei said it has obtained 46 commercial 5G contracts so far in 30 countries and shipped more than one lakh 5G stations globally, emerging as a top player in the race for setting up the super-fast telecommunications system despite the US ban on use of its 5G services.

The Shenzhen-headquartered firm, which is under immense pressure after the US issued the ban warning that Huawei systems could be manipulated by Beijing to spy on other countries and disrupt critical communications, made the announcement on Thursday in a press statement.

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Thursday granted commercial-use 5G licenses to four state-owned telecom giants to start rolling out 5G services, signalling Beijing's determination to be the global leader in setting up superfast wireless networks.

It issued licences to China Broadcasting Network and the country's top three telecom operators -- China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom.

France as an Indo-Pacific Power: Making the Case

By Ankit Panda

Unlike other far-flung powers, France emphasizes its massive Indo-Pacific exclusive economic zone and constellation of territories.

French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly made a splash with her speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore at the start of the month. As Abhijnan Rej, The Diplomat’s new South Asian security contributor, noted in a recent column, she presented a call to action that was “trenchant, humorous, and combative.”

Parly reminded the dialogue that she wasn’t in Singapore alone: She’d brought the FS Charles de Gaulle, the French Navy’s only aircraft carrier, in tow. The carrier, currently on an extended Indo-Pacific deployment, was docked as she spoke at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base; two days later it would join the Republic of Singapore Navy for exercises. The vessel was a symbol of France’s power projection capabilities in the region.

I was fortunate to be in Singapore for this year’s Dialogue and, while I share the assessment that Parly’s speech was among the highlights of the plenaries, there was a broader palpable sense of confusion among the events’ Asian delegates about France’s insistence that it was inherently an Indo-Pacific power.

At the center of France’s Indo-Pacific strategy is a seemingly uncontroversial assertion: France is an Indo-Pacific power because it has 1.5 million citizens living in the region and more than 9 million square kilometers of exclusive economic zone. Moreover, some 200,000 French nationals live in the countries of the Indo-Pacific. The population and EEZ figure alone are impressive, with the latter being the region’s largest.

Army Charts New Path for Air and Missile Defense

By Connie Lee

To counter new and evolving weapons on the battlefield, the Army has created a new roadmap aimed at beefing up its air-and-missile defense force.

The document — released in March — outlines the service’s vision for its systems and soldiers from now through 2028 to help prepare it for multi-domain operations. The last time the Army released such a blueprint was about four years ago, Lt. Gen. James H. Dickinson, commanding general of Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, told reporters.

“The operational environment has definitely changed and become more complex,” he said. Additionally, there is “more of a great power competition,” he noted at the Association of the United States Army’s Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.

In support of the 2018 national defense strategy, the Army must have air-and-missile defense forces that can counter advanced adversaries such as Russia and China, the roadmap said.

The operational tempo for these forces “will remain high, supporting current commitments while simultaneously developing capability to support multi-domain operations,” it noted.

The changing battlefield is pitting the service against advanced weapons such as unmanned aerial systems and sophisticated ballistic missiles, Dickinson said. Additionally, hypersonic vehicles are “looming,” he noted.